A change always happens within a context. But how can the relation between the context and the change be understood? The tool Context and Critical Conditions (CCC) may be of help when the understanding of this relation is a key success factor for a project. It helps sort the context in relation to time and system levels, and also to focus on what the critical contextual conditions are for the change.

What is the CCC tool?

The Critical Conditions and Context is a framework to analyse and dialog the context of a change or a project. It helps the understanding of the critical conditions for the change.

The thinking behind the framework is that it is essential to understand that a project or change process cannot be seen independently from the contextual system that it is embedded in. In a wide perspective, this context is given by the three spheres of economy, ecology and society. The framework is looking at the full “context”, but focusing on the “critical conditions” that ensured the success of the projects and the change they are aspiring to do – the key success factors.

When to use the tool?

The CCC framework can be used when preconditions and context for innovative solutions and changes shall be compared between different industries, innovation areas or regional contexts. The tool can be used for analysis of critical conditions or it could be used in workshops to facilitate dialogue on the context for a change.

In complex situations it is usually helpful to “zoom out” from the task or project in order to find its role in the larger context. From that perspective the tool can help in learning to develop the project and its role in the change.

What’s the output/results?

The tool develops a better understanding of the context and the critical conditions for the change which a project aspires to. This can be used as success factor in a developing or run a project. It will also find and make it possible to avoid barriers to the change.

The tool will enable synthesis and learnings in projects and challenges set in complex contexts with multiple stakeholders and dimensions. The CCC tool can be used as input or part of the analysis in other tools like Upscale, TIS and Scene.

Who can use it?

The CCC is a mindset or a thinking structure and anyone can use it. However, in order to take full advantage of the tool there is a need for collaborative system thinking in a group of professionals from different backgrounds. This process could be facilitated.

In order to use CCC for in depth analyses and get wanted results, there is a need for developing interview templates.


The CCC framework was developed in the EU project Ecopol[1], and has been further developed by RISE.

In EU project Ruggedised the challenge was to develop and dialogue future scenarios for cities, looking 15 years ahead to describe the overall socio-political landscape of each city, including dimensions from the energy, environment, and urban innovation systems, while describing feasible and maximum desirable levels of upscaling for the solutions demonstrated.

In the National research program Mistra Closing the loop the goal was to identify and analyse the barriers and drivers for industrial waste recycling as part of circular economy, drawing on experiences from some of the projects participating in Mistra Closing the Loop.

The project in relation to time and system levels.

Figure 1. The project in relation to time and system levels.

In figure 1 the project itself is in the middle of the framework. The framework then moves beyond the current state of the project – to the past, where the driving forces for the project emerge, and to the future – upscaling of the project solution, where most of the barriers will arguably occur. In addition to moving in time, the framework strives to cross the system levels – by elevating the projects and looking at the “super-system”, or society, they operate in; and by dissecting the projects and looking at the particularly problematic areas, such as business model or technology.

[1]The framework and tool was developed in The Ecopol project and is based on a manual of the University of Applied Sciences “Campus 02” – Department for Innovation Management, Graz, Austria (Michael Terler et.al), which in itself relies on the “9-windows tool” of the TRIZ method.


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Toolbox Policy & Planning Methods for transition The Context and Critical Conditions tool (CCC)